Alex Rodriguez angrily bolted from of his own grievance hearing Wednesday, declaring it “a farce,” then emphatically denied MLB’s current claims that he has used steroids and impeded its investigation into the matter — claims that led to his 211-game suspension by baseball.
In New York with his battery of attorneys, the embattled Yankees slugger capped a whirlwind afternoon by blasting commissioner Bud Selig — who “hates my guts” — on WFAN-AM.
“(It’s) about his legacy … he’s trying to destroy me,” A-Rod told host Mike Francesa, regarding the outgoing baseball commissioner’s unprecedented ban. “And to put me on his big mantle on the way out, that’s a hell of a trophy.”
A-Rod’s fire was lit by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz’s ruling Monday that Selig would not have to testify in the hearings at MLB’s Park Avenue offices.
“I don’t have a chance,” Rodriguez said, his voice occasionally shaking as he spoke on WFAN.
Later, Rodriguez acknowledging slamming his hand on a table, kicking a briefcase and cursing at MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred as he exited Wednesday’s hearing.
“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process.
“This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the players association refused to order Selig to come in and face me.
“The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked about and will not participate any further in this farce.”
On WFAN, Rodriguez furiously called Selig “the man from Milwaukee who put this suspension on me without one bit of evidence (for) something I didn’t do.
“I shouldn’t serve one inning,” A-Rod said in his strongest defense since he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal. “(Selig) doesn’t have the courage to come see me and tell me why he is going to destroy my career.”
MLB issued a statement regarding the “contractual grievance process” negotiated between MLB and its players.
“Despite Mr. Rodriguez being upset with one of the arbitration panel’s rulings today, Major League Baseball remains committed to this process and to a fair resolution of the pending dispute.”
In its statement, the players association claimed it “argued strenuously” that Selig testify and that “we continue to vigorously challenge Alex’s suspension within the context of this hearing.”
Also at stake is Rodriguez’s base salary of $25 million next season, on a contract that runs through 2017.
Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun received a 65-game suspension and 12 other players received 50-game bans for their ties to the former South Florida clinic headed by Anthony Bosch — now MLB’s prime witness.
Rodriguez, the only suspended player in the Biogenesis matter to appeal, received additional games for allegedly lying to MLB investigators and impeding its case.
“There was no obstructing, no intimidating, none of that,” Rodriguez told WFAN, adding “no” to the question of whether he’d used performance-enhancing drugs — as MLB claims in the current case.
After many public denials, Rodriguez was forced to admit he had used steroids as a Texas Ranger when Sports Illustrated reported a failed drug sample that was taken during a 2003 survey test. The New York Times recently reported that Rodriguez failed a 2006 test for a banned stimulant before MLB had penalties in place for such a violation.
When the Biogenesis scandal broke in January, A-Rod denied having had any relationship with Bosch. On Wednesday, Rodriguez said he consulted with Bosch only on “nutrition and weight loss” matters.
At one point, A-Rod alluded to the major financial backing MLB is alleged to have provided Bosch for his testimony, telling WFAN: “If I gave Bosch $5 million, he’d be saying whatever I wanted him to say, too.”
A-Rod said that emails exchanged between him and Bosch would “back me up 100 percent,” and that he once rejected a Bosch associate’s request of “a big lump of money” in return for positive testimony.
Where the hearing goes from here is unclear, though Rodriguez — who has not testified, though he had been scheduled to — left open the possibility of returning if Selig reconsidered and testified.
Jim McCarroll, one of Rodriguez’s lawyers, told WFAN that his camp had more evidence to show, and that “MLB has not met its burden of proof” against the player.
A-Rod has a suit pending against MLB and another against Yankees team physician Chris Ahmad, alleging medical malpractice.
Rodriguez told WFAN he was angry at the Yankees, but it wouldn’t impact his responsibility as the club’s third baseman.
“I feel like I should be there opening day,” Rodriguez said. “My goal is to get back on board.”